Archive for September, 2014

A survey by Opinion Research for the International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC) finds that nearly three-quarters (74%) of U.S. households plan to spend money on Halloween-related items this year. The total for Halloween-related spending is expected to be approximately $11.3 billion in 2014, although ICSC has no previous survey to compare that to.

“Halloween has continued to grow in importance over the past several years and consumer demand has driven retailers to place greater emphasis on the holiday..

Excluding households that don’t plan to spend anything on Halloween, the average household plans to spend $125 this year on candy, costumes, decorations or other Halloween-related items. Eight out of ten households plan to spend the same or more on Halloween compared to last year, with one out of five households planning to increase spending.

When asked what influences them the most when choosing a store for Halloween, 64% of consumers said sales or the lowest price, 31% said the ability to physically see, touch or try on the merchandise and 29% said convenience/one-stop shopping/good parking. Overall, according to the survey, more than 90% of households will select brick-and-mortar retail stores as the preferred venue for Halloween shopping, and online is expected to see a 7% share of purchases. 

If you think driverless cars are far in the future, think again. Just a decade from now, in 2024, ABI Research projects that global shipments of driverless cars and trucks will be 1.1 million. That’s forecast to increase dramatically to more than 42 million in 2035, by which time the number of driverless vehicles in use will reach 176 million worldwide.

Autonomous driving, with a human being as backup, is quickly gaining acceptance, but ABI says only driverless vehicles will bring the full range of automation benefits including car sharing; driverless taxis, and delivery vans; social mobility for kids, elderly, and impaired; and overall economic growth through cheaper and smoother transportation. “Many barriers remain but the path towards robotic vehicles is now firmly established with high rewards for those first-to-market,” said ABI VP and practice director Dominique Bonte.

Though there is progress on the technological side—both on sensor hardware and Artificial Intelligence—user acceptance, security, liability issues, and regulation remain huge bottlenecks. But ABI sees the automobile industry dragging its feet somewhat, leaving an opening for a technology company, such as Google, which is already testing a prototype, to become the market leader. ABI warns that there is a great case for driverless vehicles, and the automotive industry should start preparing, instead of spending all its time, effort, and money on various complicated forms of semi-autonomous driving. However, the research company notes, “it remains unclear if and when car OEMs will be ready for this ‘leap of faith’ with Google already moving in to exploit the opportunity of leading the automotive revolution.”

Apparently watching TV is about to be on the same level as playing Bingo.

As younger people turn to technology and the Internet to get their daily dose of shows, the average television viewer is getting older, according to new data from the independent research firm MoffettNathanson. Media analyst Michael Nathanson found that the average TV viewer in America during the 2013-2014 season had a median age of 44.4 years — a 6 percent increase from just four years ago.

When it comes to live television viewing, every age group except for people 55 and older are watching fewer TV shows during their actual scheduled time. A 2013 Pew Research Center study found a similar trend in television and news consumption. The main source of news for adults 50 and older was television, while 71 percent of young Americans said they get the majority of their news from the Internet.

The biggest networks seem to be losing younger viewers the fastest. The study found that the age of the average cable TV viewer has jumped 8 percent in the last four years. CBS has the oldest audience, with a median age of 58.7 years old. Fox’s broadcast audience is about 10 years younger than that, with a median age of 47.8 years old.

For some networks, this research is no shock. Fox News’ audience has had a median age of 65 and older for quite some time.


Amid all the recent reports of advertisers moving money from television budgets to digital, analyst Marci Ryvicker at Wells Fargo Securities has been checking with sources on the buy and sell sides of both broadcast and digital media. While there has been some shifting of money into digital, she told clients that her contacts describe the acceleration as “moderate” and they are looking for the TV scatter market to be stronger than some on Wall Street have feared.

In a detailed research report, Ryvicker pointed to one quote in particular from a digital media executive, who suggested that the weakness in traditional TV is cyclical rather than secular. “Look, you have 20-something year old kids from B-school coming into these big firms trying to ‘make a difference’ by allocating a…ton of money to digital platforms—only to realize they don’t always work. We are going to see money come back to television in the scatter market –we always do,” the unidentified digital media exec said.

So, at the national level, keep an eye on the scatter market. Coming off of the first cable decline and the second broadcast network decline in total Upfront dollars since the Great Recession, the beginning of the new TV season will bring the first evidence of trends for scatter. Based on anecdotal data points to date, Ryvicker says “It sounds like advertisers have held back in order to place ads closer to air time.”

Cable is actually gaining share from national advertisers, Ryvicker said after crunching numbers for the 20 largest national advertisers, with spending up 7% from 2011 through 2013. “Most of the ‘hemorrhaging’ to digital is still coming from print—mainly newspapers (-21% 2013 vs. 2011) and magazines (-4%)—as well as from radio (-8%),” she wrote, adding, “We would

characterize both Broadcast TV and outdoor as ‘at risk’ given their low-to-no growth levels.”

All but five of the 20 largest national advertisers increased total ad spending from 2011 through 2013, boosting spending by an average 6%. That allowed for digital ad spend to go up by 12% 2011-2013, while spending on traditional media was relatively flat. The analyst also noted that year-over-year sales growth for those big advertisers was highest when spending on both traditional media and digital was increased.

At the station level, Ryvicker said her contacts characterize local spot as “stable” and national as still down, but improving more now than when the publicly traded groups had their last round of Wall Street conference calls. “Political buys are starting to come in with more vigor, which is a positive first and foremost for TV station groups; we also hear political is helping regional cable,” Ryvicker told clients.